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POSTED SEPTEMBER 2017

Australia – 2017 craft beer consumer survey results are out

Given that 17,000 craft beer consumers took part in the Beer Cartel’s consumer survey, craft beer’s popularity must be on the increase still.

The 2017 Australian Craft Beer Survey is the largest, publicly available, study of Australian craft beer drinking trends. It follows on from the 2016 version of the same study.

As says the author of the survey, Richard Kelsey of the Beer Cartel: “Craft beer is the only segment of the Australian beer market which is in continuous growth, with overall consumption of beer in decline. Our data provide an extremely accurate birds-eye view of this young and exciting industry.”

The Beer Cartel is Australia’s leading craft beer bottle shop and the organiser of the survey. Read on

 

USA – Constellation relaunches some Ballast Point brands at lower prices

You’d think the number three brewer in the US, Constellation Brands, would have done the research before paying USD 1 billion for San Diego craft brewer Ballast Point.

Following a proprietary (and probably highly expensive) review of the craft beer segment, and its own positioning within it, Constellation Brands has re-launched a number of its Ballast Point offerings with a new look in an attempt to “tell its story more effectively” to consumers. Read on

 

United Kingdom – BBPA worried by government’s new immigration rules

Britain will end the free movement of labour immediately after Brexit and introduce restrictions to deter all but highly-skilled EU workers. These proposals, set out in a Home Office document, were leaked to the Guardian newspaper on 5 September 2017 and drew criticism – not least from industry.

As can be imagined, the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) became very much concerned. BBPA’s Chief Executive Brigid Simmonds, on 6 September 2017, felt compelled to comment:

This document suggests that there will be a cap on low-skilled workers which would undermine the needs of the pub industry, where we rely a great deal on those with the soft skills needed to provide great hospitality.”

Whilst the brewing and pub sector does employ thousands of UK citizens, 17 percent of our 900,000 employees are from overseas and this rises to 40 percent plus, in metropolitan areas. For some companies it is much higher, particularly for kitchen staff.”

The UK’s low unemployment rates are going to make it extremely hard to replace these employees with UK nationals. If there were to be a cap for EU employees, it must be at a level that can sustain our industry.”

The BBPA said that it is already in touch with officials and they are keen to meet with us.

Ms Simmonds’ warnings are echoed by Tim Martin, Chairman of pub chain JD Wetherspoon, which operates around 900 pubs. Mr Martin is a staunch Brexiteer but has called himself a “liberal” where immigration is concerned, in view of the fact that his company has benefited from immigration from within and outside of the EU. He has often said that Britain could not afford to put the brake on immigration and called for a special deal for EU workers.

His view is supported by comments from the chain of sandwich shops, Pret A Manger (480 outlets), that only 1 in 50 job applications it gets are from British people looking for work.

 

USA – Big Beer’s plan for growth? Drop the alcohol

Is it really in response to changing consumer lifestyles, or is it just a secret ploy to save on excise? Right now, the “low and no” category, as the industry calls it, has a taste and image problem, and as a result makes up only about 2 percent of overall beer consumption. Read on

 

Australia – CUB lowers alcohol content of some of its brands

AB-InBev-owned Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) has said it is aiming to meet the growing demands of consumers who want to moderate their drinking, by reducing the ABV in some of its mid and low-strength beers.

According to reports, Carlton Mid, Cascade Premium Light and VB Gold, will all see their ABV reduced, although the brewer has said it has no plans to alter the strength of its mid-strength juggernaut Great Northern.

A CUB spokesperson was quoted as saying that the decision was made to go ahead with the lower ABV beers when its brewers said they could make the change without impacting flavour. Read on

 

USA – The future for craft brewery start-ups? KISS!

It really is KISS. KISS is nothing untoward. It’s just one of those acronyms that keep changing their meanings. In this case it stands for Keep It Simple and Small.

For several years, industry pundits have wondered how many more craft breweries the US beer market can possibly absorb before someone will have to give? Well, despite continuing growth for the segment, some of the large craft brewers have actually felt the effects of increased competition. In 2016, several struggled to maintain volume levels, while others (including Boston Beer and Sierra Nevada) lost volume.

The troubles have continued this year. While craft beer sales were up 5 percent in the first half of 2017, off-premise sales of craft beer – for brewers big and small – fell by USD 143 million to USD 2.3 billion, according to data from Nielsen. Read on


China – AB-InBev signs distribution deal with Diageo for Guinness

Diageo, the world’s major drinks company and brewer of Guinness, has appointed AB-InBev to become the exclusive distributor in the Chinese mainland of Guinness, eyeing fast expansion of sales in the market, media reported on 28 August 2017.

The distribution contract will run for five years, subject to performance criteria, and will cover both the on- and off-premise channels in the mainland.

The two parties expect sales volume will double from the current 10,000 hl within one year. Read on

 

United Kingdom – Sell beer like petrol?

World-weary drivers are used to petrol prices which go up and down during a day for no apparent reason, while shoppers are used to supermarket prices which stay pretty much the same. All that, however, might be about to change thanks to electronic shelf-edge labels, which can adjust prices in real time. Electronic price tags are a fact of life in most larger stores in France and Scandinavia but not in the UK yet.

Recent reports have suggested that fixed prices in supermarkets for everyday items will be gone within five years, to be replaced by what is called surge pricing. This would enable supermarkets to charge more when goods are in greater demand. There are obvious candidates – ice cream on hot days, sandwiches at lunchtime, beer and wine during major sporting events and burgers during barbecue season. Read on


USA – BrewDog’s pipe dream: a border bar between Mexico and the US

You have to give it to Scottish punk brewer BrewDog: they don’t lack in imagination. Their latest whacky idea, revealed to the world in early August 2017, is to open a craft beer bar that straddles the US-Mexican border.

Called “The Bar on the Edge”, the container kit bar is to be set up in the furthest outskirts of the US. While the specific location for the bar is yet to be disclosed, BrewDog has stated that half of the bar will be in Texas and the other half in Chihuahua, Mexico. Read on


Australia – Tinnies are making a comeback

Good craft beer in cans used to be an oxymoron like “airline food” or “English cuisine”. Not any longer. It has become the fastest growing trend in beer, thanks to craft brewers Pirate Life (Adelaide) and Balter (Gold Coast) actively pushing cans.

Once the domain of mainstream brands like Tooheys and VB, cans are now being embraced by craft beer labels all over Australia. Pirate Life even decided to only package their beers in cans and kegs. When I visited the brewery’s taproom in August 2017, I could not get any of their beers on tap. A friendly barman pointed me towards a fridge which was stacked with cans. Punters did not seem to mind drinking the beer straight out of the tinnies, although Pirate Life offered glasses shaped like tinnies for refusniks like me. This makes you wonder if the whole ritual of pouring the perfect pint is so passé that it actually looks quaint?

Even flashy bars nowadays stock craft beer brands in cans, but few will go as far and only sell cans. The Bolt Hole bar in Byron’s Bay, a popular seaside resort 800 km north of Sydney, is one such venue. There isn’t a tap or a beer bottle in sight. Instead, the bar’s craft beer offerings from around the world are delivered in classic Aussie fashion — via tinnie only. Why? Without taps, a bar can look sleeker and less cluttered, it is believed. Read on


Austria – What does the beer drinker want? IBD Masterclass explores sensory science

As the UK continues to sever its political ties with the EU, it was only fitting that the Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD), an organization with 5,000+ members, re-established its links to its continental constituents by organising a seminar in Salzburg.

After all, 19 percent of IBD members are currently kind of scattered across the rest of the world – that is outside the strong UK, Africa and Asia-Pacific sections.

As Michaela Miedl (AB-InBev), who co-hosted the event with Stephen Wilkinson (SFW Consulting & Services, Vienna) said in her introduction, their aim was to create a community in Europe around the IBD and the best way to do this is to bring people together in a learned and entertaining format.

The two-day seminar was held in Salzburg, Austria, at the end of June 2017 and attracted around 50 participants. The choice of Salzburg proved ideal for at least three reasons: Austria’s vibrant brewing industry (represented by Dr Günther Seeleitner, President of the Austrian Brewing and Malting Association), the country’s geographical location (within easy reach for a group of Czech brewers) and its prestige as the birthplace of psychoanalysis. The founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, practiced in Vienna at the turn of the 20th century.

Although psychoanalysis was not explicitly on the agenda, the seminar’s topic “Applied sensory and consumer science” still had a lot to do with what goes on in the consumer’s mind when drinking beer. In this respect, the seminar’s papers helped review long-held preconceptions about what consumers actually want from a beer. Read on


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